Hungary’s Internet tax scrapped after protesters throw old PC parts at prime minister’s HQ

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Last week the Hungarian government put forward a new tax that initially would see ISPs in the country pay 60 cents per gigabyte of data sent over the Internet, with higher prices for companies. Inevitably it was expected that ISPs would then pass that extra cost on to customers, meaning surfing the web was about to get a lot more expensive in the country.

The tax proposal sparked mass protests, which clearly worried the government. In response they tweaked the tax rules so that no individual would have to pay more than 700 forints (US$3) per month, and companies no more than 5,000 forints (US$21). The limits did nothing to calm the protesters, though, and they started throwing old PC parts at the headquarters of the prime minister’s Fidesz party.

Now, just over a week since the tax first hit the headlines, prime minister Viktor Orban has announced it will be scrapped completely. He acknowledged that the people disliked it, and because of that “it should not be done.”

Initially the Hungarian government was hoping the new tax would raise $83 million a year, although based on gigabytes of data sent within Hungary last year, it looked likely to be closer to $725 million collected in additional tax from the population. As for why the tax was deemed necessary, Orban said it was going to help balance the country’s books in 2015. Now he’ll have to come up with another, hopefully more acceptable money generating solution in the new year.

Margaret Soto

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